Whether they’re loud or silent, stinky, or odorless, everyone farts. Doctors say the average person farts anywhere from 5 to 15 times per day. Farting is a normal part of digestion that reflects the activity of the bacteria in your gut. You might also notice that you fart more when you eat certain foods that are more difficult to digest, such as beans or raw vegetables.
While farting every day is normal, farting all the time is not. Excessive farting, also called flatulence, can make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. It might also be a sign of a health problem. You have excessive flatulence if you fart more than 20 times per day.
In most cases, excessive farting can be controlled with changes to your diet and lifestyle. But in some cases, it’s necessary to seek out medical attention. What should you do about your excessive flatulence? Here’s what you need to know:
What causes a person to fart more than normal?
As you swallow a piece of food, mouthful of water, or simply your own saliva, you also swallow some air. This air builds up in your digestive system. More gas builds up when you digest food. Your body works to get rid of this gas either by farting or burping.
All of this is normal. Your farts might be loud or silent. They might be stinky or they might be odorless. Stinky farts are often caused by:
- eating high-fiber foods
- having a food intolerance
- taking certain medications such as antibiotics
- being constipated
- a bacterial buildup in your digestive tract
Very rarely, stinky farts are caused by colon cancer.
But what causes a person to fart more than usual? Some common causes include:
Some foods are more difficult for your body to digest than others. These foods often contain high amounts of fiber or certain kinds of sugars that’re hard for the body to process. Some people may be more affected by some foods than others. Some foods that commonly cause excessive gas include:
- bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- dairy products containing lactose, such as milk or cheese
- fructose, found in some fruits and often used as a sweetener in soft drinks and candy
- sorbitol, a sugar substitute found in candies and artificial sweeteners
- carbonated beverages, such as soda and beer
Some digestive disorders that cause excessive farting include:
- autoimmune pancreatitis
- celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- dumping syndrome
- eating disorders
- gastroesophageal reflux disease
- inflammatory bowel disease
- irritable bowel syndrome
- lactose intolerance
- peptic ulcer
- ulcerative colitis
These digestive disorders interfere with normal digestion, placing stress on your digestive system, and often result in excessive farting.
Some people experience symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome — which includes excessive farting — when stressed. Some people may also engage in habits that cause excessive farting when they’re stressed, such as smoking, chewing gum, eating sweets or drinking alcohol.
The more time food waste spends in your colon, the more time it has to ferment. This often leads to very frequent and stinky farts.
Changes in the amount or type of bacteria in your digestive tract
Antibiotics or consuming food tainted with bacteria can wreak havoc on your digestive tract, causing excessive farting.
What can be done to prevent excess farting?
No matter the cause of your excess farting, there are some things you can do today to try to get it under control. Some good strategies include:
- Avoid foods you know usually cause you to fart. You might find it helpful to keep a food journal and note which foods cause you the least and most amounts of gas. Stick to eating foods that cause you the least amount of gas.
- Try eating more frequent and smaller meals throughout the day. This reduces the amount of stress on your digestive system, hopefully reducing the amount of gas you experience.
- Eat and drink more slowly. Eating and drinking fast increases the amount of air you swallow. Eating and drinking more slowly can reduce this and hopefully reduce how much you fart.
- Exercise regularly to prevent gas buildup in your digestive tract. Healthy adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day.
- Eat fewer fatty foods. These foods slow digestion and give food in your digestive tract more time to ferment, resulting in excessive gas.
- Try an over-the-counter gas remedy. Medications containing simethicone, such as Gas-X or Mylanta Gas, are designed to break up gas bubbles in the digestive tract. Medications such as Beano are meant to decrease the amount of gas produced during the body’s digestion of beans and other high-fiber foods.
- Give up smoking and chewing gum. This can make you swallow excess air, which builds up in your digestive tract.
- Avoid carbonated beverages such as soda and beer. This can cause gas bubbles to build up in your digestive tract.
When should you go see a doctor?
While farting is normal, excessive farting is not. Excessive farting can also disrupt your life. It can make you feel embarrassed or self-conscious and get in the way of you enjoying your everyday activities.
The good news is, in most cases, excessive farting is easy to get under control. All it takes are a few changes to your diet and lifestyle.
In cases where excessive farting isn’t easily managed with at-home remedies, you should see your doctor. Be especially sure to see your doctor if your excessive flatulence is accompanied by:
- abdominal pain and bloating that doesn’t go away
- recurring diarrhea or constipation
- unexplained weight loss
- bowel incontinence
- blood in your stool
- signs of an infection, such as high body temperature, vomiting, chills, and pain in your joints or muscles